Work from Home Essentials: 12 Tips for Phone Etiquette

Samantha Villegas, Senior Consultant (Email)

Conference calls have become more important lately due to stay at home orders, and they’re much different than they were prior to the pandemic. For one, they’re being done in environments that are not exactly perfect for business. Two, not everyone has the best equipment, such as proper headphones and a good Wi-Fi connection. Finally, we’re doing many more of them, as they have replaced face-to-face planned and impromptu meetings.

Handling each one of those changes by itself is manageable but handling all three at once can be quite challenging.  Here are some tips to ensure you don’t lose your patience or that of your colleagues.

What to Do

  1. Have an agenda that is shared in advance.
  2. Put attendees who are not needed for the whole call at the top of the agenda.
  3. Test out your technology in advance to make sure everything works. Dial in early to do so.
  4. Open up files you will need to share before you get on the call.
  5. Turn off all notifications.
  6. If you are the host, start the call on time, welcome everyone, introduce yourself, and take attendance by running through each invited name and asking them to signify by saying “here.”
  7. Say your name every time you speak.
  8. Mute your line when you are not speaking to keep background noise to a minimum.
  9. Do not eat while on the call, unless you are muted.
  10. Don’t put a conference call on hold. If you have to step away, simply leave the phone muted and step away, or disconnect and reconnect when you can.
  11. Give the attendees your full attention. Don’t try to multi-task and answer emails or do other work during the call.
  12. When you’d like to speak, wait for a lull and request to speak. If you can’t find a lull, enter your request to speak in the chat box or text the host if you can.


Bottom Line

Conference calls are hard to do in the best of times for a variety of reasons. The pandemic is an extraordinary circumstance that requires us to participate in them more often, but it’s hard because we’re juggling home life, parenting, teaching or entertaining our kids, managing roommates, and experiencing the stress of this virus all on top of our work. Your patience and understanding for how others participate on calls is critical. By that same token, honor your colleagues by doing what you can to minimize noise and disruption from your own end and give the call 100% of your attention.